Being out in the countryside with my dogs gives me time to think. I’ve learnt the pleasure of solitude without being lonely, and that’s a good feeling for me.

Welcome to "Man with two dogs" - the family website for dog owners and dog walkers.

This is my countryside diary which appears each Saturday in the Dundee Courier newspaper.


September 27th, 2008

MY GARDENING skills are mostly confined to cutting the grass and thereafter admiring the labour and skills of my betters. Now is the time of year when I look forward to putting away the lawn mower, and putting my feet up until springtime. Sadly it never works out that way. The autumn equinox passed on the 22nd of this month, marking the start of autumn proper when the trees begin to shed their leaves. And it's back to the tedious task of sweeping them up.  

A neighbour has found a novel way to use the leaves which gather in the corners of his garden, and produce an interesting planter for bulbs and flowers. Recycling an old, square recycling bin he formed an envelope of chicken wire all round it, and about one third of the way down on the inside. He stuffed the envelope with dry beech leaves to a thickness of four or five inches and filled the tub with earth. The finished product is economical and practical, and has a pleasing, rustic look.

I was warned to keep the dogs away from a particular part of the woods because a hare doe had been seen with two newly born leverets. This seemed unusually late for hares to be breeding and I did some research on the internet. Clicking onto the Loch Leven National Nature Reserve website I found, to my surprise, that their breeding season lasts from March to September, and that a doe can produce up to three litters a year.

I then had reports of swallows producing a third clutch of eggs, and woodpeckers hatching a second brood of chicks. I called on my old friend Alasdair Tindal's near encyclopaedic knowledge of birds. He confirmed that it is not unusual, if not very common, for swallows to produce three broods, but he had always regarded woodpeckers as single brood birds.

He went on to tell me about the buzzard he watched recently, circling above his house. It took several minutes for the penny to drop. From the deeply forked tail and effortless, soaring flight with scarcely a beat of the long, slender wings, he was actually watching a kite. Now, I think that is most unusual for this part of north-east Scotland.

I always appreciate feedback from these weekly pieces. A phone call from Jack Drummond followed the mention last week of Capability Brown. Like the great gardener, Jack is Northumbrian by birth, but Montrosian by adoption having been posted to Montrose Aerodrome as a young man in 1937 after joining the RAF.

Jack told me that on his mother's side he is a direct descendant of Capability Brown. I wondered if Jack had been born with “green fingers” too, but it turns out that, like me, he's really a fair weather gardener. Well, someone needs to stand back and applaud!

Written on Saturday, September 27th, 2008 at 9:50 pm for Weekly.